Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 17:12 UK

Death cyclist fine angers family

Rhiannon Bennett
Rhiannon died six days after hitting her head on the pavement

The family of a 17-year-old girl who died after being hit by a cyclist has described the 2,200 fine handed to the man who hit her as "laughable".

Father Mick Bennett said Jason Howard should have faced manslaughter charges and been jailed for several years over Rhiannon Bennett's death in April 2007.

Howard, 36, of Buckingham, was fined on Tuesday after being convicted of dangerous cycling in the town.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the charge was the most appropriate one.

During Howard's trial, Aylesbury magistrates heard he had shouted at Rhiannon to "move because I'm not stopping" before crashing into her.

Diana Bennett calls for a change in the law

Rhiannon died six days after hitting her head on the pavement as a result of the collision in Verney Close, Buckingham.

Following the verdict, Mr Bennett said: "It's laughable - when we first heard about this we thought it would be manslaughter, or perhaps even murder, but this is Britain.

"He is an arrogant, vile little man."

Rhiannon's mother, Diana, said: "Words cannot express how broken-hearted we are as a family.

"My daughter ended up dying for him having a bike ride."

Mrs Bennett told BBC Five Live that the law had let them down.

She said: "He shouted a warning. There's no need to shout a warning. He's on his bicycle, he should have veered round them but even on impact with Rhiannon, he didn't even brake.

"He was on the footpath, where she should have been safe."

'Tragic accident'

A CPS spokesperson said: "A file of evidence from the police was reviewed by a senior CPS prosecutor and, based on that evidence, it was decided the charge of dangerous cycling was the most appropriate.

"Each case is kept under continuous review and following correspondence with Rhiannon's family, the case was looked at before and after the inquest into Rhiannon's death, which returned a verdict of accidental death.

CCTV footage of Jason Howard on his bike before the collision
The court heard Howard could have swerved and avoided the collision

"It was decided that the charge of dangerous cycling was the appropriate charge and there was insufficient evidence for more serious charges, such as manslaughter, to be pursued."

Sgt Dominic Mahon, of Thames Valley Police, told the BBC Howard could have been travelling at about 17mph (27km/h) when he struck Rhiannon, "imparting a great deal of force" on her.

Chris Thompson, Howard's solicitor, said: "It was a tragic accident that he will regret for the rest of his days. Jason understands how Rhiannon's family must be feeling at the moment."

Mr Thompson said he had advised Howard not to speak publicly on the matter until after civil proceedings had concluded.

"The family have said they intend to seek damages so we have to assume that a civil claim will follow," he said.

Mr Thompson said his client found comments made after the case by Rhiannon's father, Mick Bennett, "very upsetting".




SEE ALSO
Cyclist fined over fatal accident
08 Jul 08 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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